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Wines in the press, July 4-5

Published:  07 July, 2009

Here is what the national wine critics had to say over the weekend of July 4-5.

The Guardian
Victoria Moore is upbeat to see the 2007 Rhône reds hitting our shelves. Not a vintage generally admired in France, says Moore, "but while it poured in much of the country that summer, the southern Rhône remained defiantly dry".

And, says Moore, it's not just a vintage "for those with money to burn on Châteauneuf-du-Pape", with quality sweeping across the board. Waitrose's Rhône buyer Andrew Shaw goes further, saying village appellations were exceptional and, proportionately, the lower priced wines represent even better value.

One worth seeking out, says Moore, is Domaine de la Berthète Côtes du Rhône 2007 (£6.49, or £5.19 by the mixed case, Oddbins).

The Observer
Prompted by a not uncommon discussion with a perturbed waiter, Tim Atkin MW explains why there are advantages to drinking some red wines chilled.

Fruit and perfume are more pronounced in a wine at 15C than at 22C says Atkin, with higher temperatures encouraging alcohol to leap out of the glass and flavours to seem jammy and indistinct.


Apart from astringent, chunky wines with high tannins, Atkin reckons "you can chill pretty much anything red to 14C. But lighter, fruitier wine is where you'll notice the biggest difference".


He suggests putting Asda's juicy, raspberryish 2007 Extra Special Beaujolais Villages, Boisset (£4.61, 12.5%), in the fridge.


The Sunday Telegraph

"Real men, making real ale, sounds like the last, sweaty bastion of a traditional drinks industry," says Susy Atkins. Imagine her surprise then, to come across two female brewers in the space of a month.

Otter Brewery in east Devon and Marston's in Burton upon Trent each boast a female brewer who have developed similar views regarding women's tastes. They believe women dislike overtly bitter flavours, preferring lightly hopped, crisp draughts, "but not bland lager", checks Atkins. The ground-breaking duo also agree that decent beer deserves to be served in wide-bowled glasses, not heavy tankards, and in the art of beer and food matching.

Atkins suggests trying Otter Brewery's Beautiful Daze (£1.90 for 500ml from Waitrose and selected Tesco) and Marston's Pedigree Premium English Ale (£1.70 from major supermarkets), which she says is more malty, with mellow, nutty notes - and good with a classic cheese ploughman's.


The Times
"Not even I want to fuss about with wine on hot, humid days," declares Jane MacQuitty, preferring ice-cold summary cocktails, "complete with a decent slug of alcohol".

To pep up non-alcoholic cocktails she recommends a good 40% plus gin such as her favourite - "Tanqueray's amazing, angelica and juniper-stashed 47.3% Export Strength" (Waitrose, £17.29; Threshers and Wine Rack, £17.99) - and St-Germain elderflower liqueur (Waitrose, 50cl, £14.99).

Alas, not even the Royal mixologists at a charity event she attended at St James's Palace could challenge her enduring favourite: Cheat's Pimm's. Best, she says, made with one measure each of gin and red vermouth and half a measure of Bols Orange Curaçao, (Gerry's and The Vintage House in Soho, London), the usual fruit and greenery and topped up with ice-cold sparkling lemonade or ginger beer.

"It has more kick and flavour and is less expensive than the outrageously expensive, wishy-washy Pimm's No 1 and Sainsbury's silly £10.79 imitation, Pitchers," says Macquitty.


The Sunday Times
Bob Tyrer believes the perception of Californian wines as either bland if cheap - cue Blossom Hill or Gallo - or expensive if made by film stars is 'not entirely true'.


However, he agrees that drinkable American wines generally cost too much. With the help of a British importer, he gives reasons for the high price point, including the expensive dollar and cost of freight, which is 20% more than shipping from Chile or New Zealand. The other, more worrying, reason cited was arrogance, with the importer believing that American producers "simply don't care whether the export price is competitive because they sell so much on the domestic market".


Tempted to boycott American producers until they wake up to the recession, Tyrer does manage to recommend Parducci Pinot Noir 2007 (£9.99 at Oddbins). 'A bargain by Californian standards,' he says.

The Financial Times
Jancis Robinson MW is optimistic about the quality of wine coming from New Zealand, and reports the country is "no longer a one trick pony".


Chardonnay, second in plantings to Sauvignon Blanc, has seen a general step up in quality, with wines still retaining New Zealand's trademark bright, fruit acidity, says Robinson,.

Complementary of market leader Montana's "modest bottling of unoaked Chardonnay" (widely available for less than £7, and £5.59 at Waitrose until July 21), her enthusiasm is muted by the news that Montana is cancelling its grape contracts in Gisborne. Why, she asks? Because the market prefers Sauvignon Blanc.

"Catastrophic news for Gisborne grape growers", she says. "Buy Gisborne Chardonnay; keep these growers afloat!"

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